Scrutinizing and questioning judges’ scorecards became a dominant storyline following the first Gennady Golovkin-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez middleweight title fight last year.
If the first bout, which ended in a disputed draw, raised eyebrows over the scoring, the fallout from the Golovkin-Alvarez rematch late Saturday again has made the judges’ verdicts topic for debate.
Although he landed the stronger punches for the majority of the second half of the bout, Golovkin lost the grip on his eight-year middleweight reign. Alvarez, the pay-per-view and popular Mexican attraction, won a majority decision at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas - the same venue as the first match.
“I didn’t get the knockout but fortunately I got the victory,” Alvarez said. “I’m satisfied with the job we did today.”
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Alvarez, 28, became the new World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council champion after judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld submitted scorecards of 115-113 in his favor. Judge Glenn Feldman scored it 114-114.
“It is a very important win for me, for my career, my country,” Alvarez said. “I’m very proud. It is something very rewarding.”
Meanwhile, for Golovkin, the moral of the story apparently is that to defeat Alvarez in Las Vegas do it before the final bell. The native of Kazakhstan built a perfect record without ever having fought in Las Vegas until his two fights against Alvarez, who has headlined seven of his last nine pay-per-view events in the city.
“I want to congratulate Canelo,” said Golovkin, who didn’t stay in the ring for a post-fight interview but answered questions through a translator later at a press conference. “He’s a champion but I also feel I’m a champion.
“I’m not going to say who won tonight because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges. I thought it was a good fight for the fans and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”
The buildup to the rematch featured the controversy over the first fight’s scoring. After the Nevada State Athletic Commission used two of its licensed judges for the first match, the governing body hired Weisfeld, of New York and Feldman, of Connecticut, for the second bout. Nevada-based Moretti worked both fights and was the only judge who scored the first bout for Golovkin.
The prelude to the second fight also included a war of words between the two fighters’ camps after Alvarez twice tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance that resulted in a six month suspension. As a result of Alvarez’s suspension, the rematch was rescheduled from May 5.
On Saturday, Alvarez (50-1-2) stalked Golovkin in the early rounds and connected with left jabs and rights to the head. Golovkin (38-1-1) also scored with lead jabs and countered with rights to the head.
The pace intensified in the middle and late rounds but Golovkin connected with the more telling shots. Alvarez sustained a cut above the left eye and Golovkin had swelling under his right eye.
Both fighters sensed the fight’s outcome seemed in doubt during the closing rounds. Golovkin scored with solid power shots, one of which briefly stopped Alvarez in his tracks in the 11th.
The balance between a second draw and an Alvarez victory rested on Weisfeld’s and Morreti’s scoring of the 12th and both eventually had Alvarez winning the round. For all of Golovkin’s increased punch volume and aggression in the second half of the bout, Moretti and Weisfeld rewarded the former champion with only three of the final six rounds.
Despite the controversy over the scoring in the first fight, Golovkin’s trainer Abel Sanchez offered a more diplomatic tone after the rematch.
“Look, the judges were good judges and they saw the fight in Canelo’s favor tonight,” Sanchez said. “Maybe next fight, they’ll see it in our favor.”
Fort Lauderdale based Heavyweight Factory will present its second show of the year Sept. 28 at the Seminole Hard Rock Events Center in Hollywood. The card’s main event will feature Hawaii’s Logan Yoon (12-0, 10 KOs) and Panama’s John Renteria (16-4-1, 10 KOs) for a regional junior-welterweight belt.
Friday (9:45 p.m., Showtime): Jon Fernandez vs. O’Shaquie Foster, 10, junior-lightweights.
Saturday (10:05 p.m., HBO): replay of the Gennady Golovkin-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez middleweight title fight.